Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nini was here, playing with the dollhouse in progress, which she had populated with all the hamburger dolls (you know what a hamburger doll is, right? All those plastic doo-dads handed out with the kids meals.) and the Disney playset characters. It looked like a kiddie version of the bar scene from "Star Wars". She was acting out some little dramas on her own, while I gave Bubs a bottle.

"Tomorrow," she announced to the assembled tiny Barbies and Madame Alexanders and Polly Pockets and Minnies and Daisys and Kelly and that invisible chick from Fantastic Four, "is the finalé. Everyone go to bed and in the morning you can try on the shoe and whoever wins will go to the big party."

"Finalé"? What kind of four year old says "finalé"?

One that's watched way too much reality TV, perhaps?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Today Ro leaves for college. We're taking two days to drive the 12 hours, because Bob can only ride so many hours in my little clown car, plus we're not 18. My first choice for her was the well-regarded university with the strong arts program thirty minutes up the highway, but out-of-state is the best decision, when you're almost 19 and your mom still treats you like you're 12.

Somebody got an I-pod, because somebody has the best brother-in-law in the whole world. Sissy gave her the practical present, a freshman handbook of everything. We had King Ranch casserole for dinner, our national comfort food.

Got the T-shirt quilt finished at noon, all but the tying. We'll do that tonight in the motel.

If this were a movie, there would be a montage here of her growing up - but we mock montages, so I'll skip that. And as the youngest of four, with three rather older sibs, there aren't a lot of photos of just her. I'll just say that she has always been an interlude of calmness and sweetness in the midst of the others's angst - when she wasn't undergoing her own angsty moments.

You know when the realization came to me that she'd do fine at college? At the Theater Banquet, when she was awarded "Best Technician". Seeing your child's peers give her a standing ovation puts her in a new light.

She was watching "The Long, Long Trailer" while she ate lunch yessterday. Glancing up from the quilt I was racing to complete, I idly said, "You know, you can't tell from the Technicolor there, but things really were the same color they are now when I was a little girl." She cracked up.
"The Fifties", she said, in her best announcers voice "were an oddly-hued decade..."
Oh, I will miss her.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We're doing the Countdown to College for Ro, part of which is cooking her favorite dishes for the last time for a while. Monday night was Beef Stew, the variant that borrows quite a bit from Julia Child. Then there is Mom's Beef Stew and Beef Stew with Roasted Vegetables, the least popular, b/c the potatoes get tough. And for Ro, Beef Stew is potatoes. Plus, she caught on that it's 'Martha's' and she's against her, for some reason.

I was using Mom's heavy stewpot to brown the meat. Over the years, my kitchen has incorporated a lot of items from relative's - some of them have been there so long that I only occasionally remember whose it was and think of them fondly. I keep my cooking utensils in an earthenware pitcher that belonged to Bob's grandmother. I cut out biscuits with my grandmother's cutter, whose handle had lost its paint long before I got it and is now bleached white.

When Mom died and we all got together to go through the stuff in the house so Dad could move - the things we had to barter over were the cookware. The good china and silver and the objets were easy - a lot of that had pretty much been decided years ago, but the Mirro aluminum? We piled it all on the floor and drew numbers, then took turns picking. I chose the stewpot, the nesting cake pans, the meat grinder, which I'm sure I'll use someday, muffin tins, a biscuit pan, the cake saver, the Pyrex loaf pan, a Corningware casserole so old it's got the blue flower design on it, assorted measuring spoons, the new potatoe masher - not the old potato masher from 1955- and the rolling pin. I felt guilty about that, though, and gave it to my youngest brother, who bakes.

Most of this was stuff that you could get at the Dollar Store, but their associations - the years that Mom cooked for all of us and that my sister and I spent helping her in the kitchen - were priceless.

Once, when Sissy was in college, we were at their house and all the seven local grandkids were there for supper. Mom literally had every cooking appliance in the kitchen in use. All the burners on the stove, the ovens, the stove grill and the microwave - cooking whatever any of the kids wanted to eat, making sure everyone got their special thing. It was chaos.

I leaned over to Sis and said "Now, you know I love you and I will love your kids but -you see this? I will not be doing this." "Oh, really," she said, "would that be because you're not INSANE?"

But back to the stewpot - I was thinking about the noumena of relics and why several hundred thousand people would file through to see Elvis's pajamas laid out on his bed in the Hall of State at the State Fair, and wondering what things of our will have the sort of meaning for the kids that Mom's cookware does for me.

Ironically, Bubs wore a pair of shorts with "Crabby" appliqued on the behind today, though he gave me my first social smile. He's been doing this for a while at rare intervals, but this was the first one I'd actually caught. At 8 weeks, he is still Mr. Serious Baby, wearing that baby frown that makes you think he's figuring out alternative energy sources or world peace in that baby brain.